Friday, March 9, 2018

Thought provokers

House Rules

They are absolute.
They are mandarin.
Sometimes merely folding a sheet
or making a bed
is to break them.

For instance there’s a right way
and a wrong way
to clear up this mess –
the spattered walls,
the tongues of broken china.

Which is which?
You spend the evening trying to guess
as you wait for his verdict,
hands resting on the table
like meat thawing for dinner.

Tonight he addresses your flesh –
Look what you made me do he says
as a flight of stairs
throws you full length,
a door walks into your face.

– Esther Morgan

You may know this poem; it's readily available all over the net. I forget where I first saw it; probably when someone shared it via social media. I think it's worth sharing here too, even if it's not new to you. Unfortunately, we need to be reminded and keep this issue alive as long as it takes to bring about change. I very much hope that Esther Morgan never had personal experience of this, but as we know, far too many women do.

Wikipedia tells us that Esther Morgan is an award-winning British poet born in 1970. However, the article doesn't say much more than that. 

Her literary biography is at The Poetry Archive, where you can also find downloadable readings of her poems, individually or as an albumn, for a small fee.

Poetry International Web gives some of the same details (including the information that she now works for The Poetry Archive as well as doing freelance teaching and editing. This article includes some reviews of her work, as well as the observation that her poems "are full of silence".

At The Poetry Archive,
she herself says, "I'm interested in the power mechanisms, personal and political and sometimes a combination of the two, that prevent people from speaking."

She has had three collections of poetry published so far, available from Amazon, and of course from Amazon UK, where you can also find an audio book of her reading from her poems. A new book of poetry, The Wound Register, will be released at the end of this month and is already advertised on Amazon.

She has a comprehensive website which includes her own account of her background, her processes, what brought her to writing poetry and what keeps her writing it.

She's on YouTube too, reading from her first three books. The accompanying notes say:

Reviewing her work in the Times Literary Supplement, Stephen Knight writes of how 'erasure, absence and isolation are explored in a voice so ingenuous, its language and syntax so plain, that it takes a while to notice quite how disturbing the poetry is.' She has a lovely, and much gentler poem here, which won the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2010.

Material shared in “Thought Provokers’ is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors. This photo of Esther Morgan is from the Norwich Writers' Circle blogspot.


  1. powerful piece and one that brought back my childhood... \\dinner at 5 never be late.. sit up straight, no elbows on the table,speak only when spoken to... etc. etc. some unpleasant memories which lingered for years...

  2. Wow, Rosemary, a perfect choice for the day after International Women's Day. This poem is spot-on and powerful, and it is all I witnessed as a child. Her gentler poem is absolutely delightful. I love it so much. Her imagery is wonderful, and her wise eyes observe the world in a way that resonates with me.

  3. Thank you for this Rosemary. I was unknowing of Esther Morgan, of how beautiful and visual her writes.
    I shall be ordering her books.
    Anna :o]

  4. You made an excellent selection, as always. Esther sounds like someone I could have coffee with, discuss feminism or other issues in a cool, calm manner. I enjoyed her poetry very much. Will read more of her work. Thanks for introducing her Rosemary, you always select such interesting and talented poets.

  5. A strong poem with a powerful message! I like the way she tells a story & then leaves the reader with a stunning ending.

  6. you read great poetry, and it makes you come back for a second read. i came back for a second look at 'House Rules'. it is a very visual poem. makes one shudders at what manner of abuses are meted out.
    yes, 'This Morning' is a much gentler poem. she opens our eyes to so much more that can be seen in a travelling beam of sunlight.

    thank you, Rosemary, for sharing Esther's poetry.

  7. Fantastic poetry! I was moved and disconcerted by the powerful piece you have posted here (it is not surprising it has taken off on the net) and I enjoyed the poem 'This Morning', as well. The way in which the observational narrative cascades to an unexpected close, in both, is truly impactful ... and stunning. Brilliant writing! Thanks for this, Rosemary.

  8. Very sharp and gutsy poetry. Thanks for sharing Rosemary. I first reading of it

    much love...


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